1 Snack your way around the Milk Market
Speak nicely to Anne Lloyd and she’ll fry some Celtic eggs and black pudding for you at the fabulous Milk Market. The eggs are wrapped with sausage meat, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. “Tourists taste them with trepidation,” she laughs, “but they love them and can’t get enough.”
Saturday morning is the best time to capture the fusion of flavour, music and good-natured banter in this old stone building that was once a corn market. With its grand new canopy, it’s a hive of activity that attracts traders from all over the region. Pick up lip-smacking spelt breads, fish from West Cork, fruit and vegetables from County Kerry and a mouth-watering selection of organic sausages, olives, jams, pastries and local chocolates. Simply delicious.
2 Discover some great art from Ireland
The Limerick City Gallery of Art is home to a superb collection of Irish paintings. It’s big enough that you can while away the hours here without a problem, but a good starting point is to look for Chairopanes, Jack B Yeats’s portrayal of a fairground amusement. The gallery is also home to work by Seán Keating, another of Ireland’s famous artists.
The next stop on your cultural trail of Limerick? Try the impressive Hunt Museum and its outstanding displays. It’s home to one of the finest collections of Celtic and medieval treasures outside Dublin, as well as works from Picasso, Renoir and Henry Moore. There’s also a children’s treasure trail, a gift shop, and a wonderful café overlooking the River Shannon. A day of artistic discovery followed by a plate of roast pork, herb stuffing and apple sauce sounds pretty good to us…
3 Read poetry at the White House
The Irish President himself, Michael D Higgins – a Limerick man by birth – has recited his poetry in the White House, this city’s oldest pub and a longtime haunt of poets, writers and wits. If you’re lucky, you may even hear a “Limerick” (a short, witty poem) being delivered.
Every Wednesday, MC Tom McCarthy introduces the city’s finest bards. Visitors are welcome to read their own poetry and, for added value, free finger food is served. The poetry is a great outlet for the people of Limerick: “They inspire each other and tourists love to watch and join in.” So if you’ve got a writer’s soul, this is the place to be…
4 Sit at a school desk with Limerick’s most famous writer
Explore the life of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt by visiting his old school, located in the heart of Limerick city. It’s now a museum dedicated to the man himself: although McCourt was born in Brooklyn, he was educated in Limerick and wrote the bestselling Angela’s Ashes about his childhood there.
At Leamy House, a delightful Tudor-style listed building, guides tell the story of McCourt’s impoverished upbringing. The reconstructed school is similar to his original one with maps, blackboards and inkwells, while a mannequin sits at a desk studying French grammar. On the walls, murals depict the young Frank’s life, creating an immersive experience you won’t easily forget.
The laneways, the back of the walls, the back of the church: it was exactly how Frank McCourt had painted it.
After your visit, join the Angela’s Ashes Walking Tour. It takes in a staggering 42 locations from the book, including the post office where McCourt worked as a telegraph boy and the beautiful Georgian Pery Square beside the People’s Park: two must-see Limerick attractions.
5 Watch the try of all tries at Thomond Park
Limerick city's Thomond Park is iconic – simple as. After all, it was here that rugby history was made when Munster beat the All Blacks 12-0 in 1978. The stadium holds a special place in the hearts of Limerick’s sporting fans, and the atmosphere during a match is second to none – crowds roar, then fall silent as soon as a pivotal play is made.
A tour of the hallowed ground is a great way to get a feel for Limerick’s sporting culture. Take a guided tour, see the dugout, visit the Thomond Park museum, and feel the power of Limerick’s love for sport: it’s all here for the taking.